Google denies shut down of Google Hangouts

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Google’s chat app, “Hangouts”, was all over the internet yesterday because according to the report of 9to5Google, their sources confirmed that 2020 will be the end of Hangouts for consumers. Some call it the regular Hangouts, while Google calls it, “Hangouts classic”.

For those who are confused with the brand, here’s a brief explanation.

In 2016, Google refocused “Hangouts” to become business-friendly. They introduced in March 2017, two services on the G Suite family: the “Hangouts Chat” (integrated team messaging system), and the “Hangouts Meet” (which gives businesses a simplified way to hold conference calls and video chats with employees and outside participants).

Right now, Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet are locked to G Suite, but Google clarified that those will not stay enterprise products.

When the “classic” (or legacy) Hangouts migration happens, Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet actually could end up like “Google Keep”, which is part of the G Suite family but remains free for use not only for businesses but also for consumers (aka regular users).

Scott Johnston, the Google Product Lead in G Suite (Hangouts), clarified the “Hangouts shut down rumor” via Twitter. Check out Scott Johnston’s conversations with 9to5Google’s Stephen Hall.

Scott Johnston (@happyinwater): Hey @hallstephenj, I run Hangouts and this is pretty shoddy reporting. No decisions made about when Hangouts will be shut down. Hangouts users will be upgraded to Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. Your source is severely misinformed. You can do better.

Stephen Hall (@hallstephenj): Hey Scott, will update my report, but I stand by my sourcing. Would you be able to elaborate on exactly how legacy Hangouts users will be “upgraded” to Hangouts Chat and Meet, since those are entirely separate enterprise products that fill different needs?

Scott Johnston:

I can’t comment on your sourcing, since I don’t have any details. The frustrating part about your reporting is it leaves the reader to jump to dramatic conclusions, because it is only half the story. Hangouts users will be migrated to Chat and Meet.

So while that will result in the eventual shut down of Hangouts classic (as we now call it), it doesn’t imply we are ending support for the use case supported by the product: messaging and meetings.

As per your comment about the products being “entirely separate enterprise products,” this just represents a shallow understanding of the market and our products. Our apps are used by, consumers, enterprises, schools, governments, and the like.

But this isn’t just true with Google Apps, it is true across the market. Line supports both businesses and consumers. As does Facebook Messenger. Dropbox. Even Teams recently opened to consumers. I could go on.

I’m assuming your quotes around “upgraded” implies you don’t think Chat/Meet are better. I’d point to large stuff like the platform, deep search, & dramatically improved handling of video/audio in meetings. Also small features like reactions and better handling of at-mentions.

But these are subjective points, and they are my products, so I’m strongly biased. In the end, neither you, nor I will make this judgement. Our users will. Everything else is just talk.